Erdogan warns of 'another Chernobyl' after talks in Ukraine
A resurgence of conflict near Europe's largest nuclear reactor has prompted urgent warnings from world leaders.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned of a nuclear tragedy in Ukraine during his first face-to-face talks with President Volodymyr Zelensky since the war broke out, echoing calls from the UN Secretary-General.
Fighting surrounding Europe's largest nuclear reactor has prompted urgent warnings from world leaders, with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres saying during talks with Erdogan that any damage to the plant would be "suicide".
"We are worried. We don't want another Chornobyl," Erdogan said during a press conference in the eastern city of Lvov, during which he also assured the Ukrainian leader that Ankara was a firm ally. "While continuing our efforts to find a solution, we remain on the side of our Ukraine friends," Erdogan said.
Guterres expressed "grave concern" about the situation at the plant, adding that it had been demilitarized, "We must tell it like it is -- any potential damage to Zaporozhye is suicide".
Erdogan, who maintains a tight working relationship with President Vladimir Putin, met with the Russian leader less than two weeks ago at the Black Sea resort of Sochi.
The Turkish President and Guterres were key brokers of a deal signed in Istanbul last month, allowing for the resumption of grain exports from Ukraine after the war broke out.
25th grain cargo ship sails
Ahead of Zelensky's press conference, Ukraine's port authorities stated that the 25th cargo ship under the agreement had left for Egypt, carrying 33,000 tons of grain.
Ukraine and Russia are two of the world's largest grain exporters, and the suspension of exports has caused grain prices to skyrocket and raised fears of a global food emergency.
During the press conference, Guterres stated that the parties planned to step up efforts to strengthen operations at three southern ports designated to handle exports under the agreement. "We will do our best to scale up our operations to face... the coming winter," he said.
He traveled to Odessa on Friday, one of the ports involved, and was scheduled to travel to Turkey to meet with the agency in charge of managing the exports agreement.
The success of the grain deal contrasts with failed peace talks early in the war, and Zelensky on Thursday ruled out peace with Russia unless it "withdrew its troops from Ukraine."
Zaporozhye NPP safety system boosted over threat of new attacks
The safety system of the Zaporozhye nuclear power plant (NPP) has been strengthened in response to the potential of further attacks on the facility, according to Vladimir Rogov, a member of the Zaporozhye regional administration's main council.
"The safety of the NPP has been boosted, I cannot disclose all the details. We are well prepared as anything can be expected from the [Volodymyr] Zelensky regime," Rogov said.
Ukrainian shells fall near Zaporizhzhia thermal power plant, no damage caused: Official
Ukrainian shells hit the territory of the thermal power station of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant (NPP), which is also important for the plant's stable operation, Vladimir Rogov, a member of the main council of the regional administration, said on Friday.
"There were at least seven heavy hits tonight, heavy artillery was working ... shells were in the area of the thermal power station," Rogov said, noting that the station is also significant for the stable operation of the nuclear power plant and "the absence of energy fluctuations."
Commenting on the possible demilitarization of the Zaporizhzhia NPP's zone, the official said it is not an option because Russian air defense means are the only ones to protect the plant from a catastrophe.
Recently, while world leaders pin the attacks on Russia, Ukrainian forces attacked the Zaporozhye nuclear power plant (ZNPP), cutting two electricity transmission lines, the Energodar administration told Sputnik.
"Today, around 3 p.m. [12:00 GMT], during the shift change of ZNPP employees, nationalist units shelled the territory of Zaporozhye NPP from the territory controlled by the Ukrainian criminal regime. As a result of this act of terrorism, two power lines supplying electricity to 750-kilovolt outdoor switchgear, necessary for power supply and safe operation of the Zaporozhye NPP's power units, were severed," an administration official said.
The shelling ignited a large fire in the vicinity of the plant, which is being controlled by personnel from a local fire department, according to the official.